River Park is located at the convergence of the Chicago North Shore Channel, the sanitary canal portion, and the Chicago River’s North Branch. It sits near the southern edge of the original development of the River Park District’s projects of the 1920s. The overarching design was to combine the typical park design and features like sports fields, field houses, pools and playgrounds at six spots along trails that followed the river. Part of the design was the creation of these trails and allowed for the separation of walking, playing, cycling and park activities from streets that bypassed the different parks. This is achieved by a series of paths that pass under the bridges where busy streets like Foster, Bryn Mawr, and Peterson are completely avoided.
It serves as an early and exemplary vision of how to do it right. The parks and paths leave the common dangers of auto traffic and offer the neighborhoods safer options for children and families and all users including park goers, sports activities, jogging, strolling, dog walking or cycling. The intelligent use of the sanitary canal as the way to get under the traffic creates this unique opportunity, and serves all users well, allowing true city respite in the neighborhoods within Lincoln Square, Albany Park and West Ridge, leading directly to the Skokie and Evanston portions to the north, where the familiar traffic returns from Peterson north to Green Bay Road at every major intersection.
For two brief miles before that, we get a glimpse of forward thinking civic design can yield, and it is beautiful. For long stretches, there is nothing beyond what the river provides between parks, and the result is perfect. We will begin our Tour of Lincoln Square at the largest of the original River Park District’s parks. We will meet in front of the Fieldhouse at River Park at 5100 N Francisco this Saturday, at 11:00 AM.
Tour of Lincoln Square
River Park Fieldhouse at 5100 N Francisco in Chicago
Saturday December 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM